Keri Lynn Russell (born March 23,
1976) is an American actress and dancer. After appearing in a number of
made-for-television films and series during the mid-1990s, she came to
fame for portraying the title role of Felicity Porter on the series
Felicity, which ran from 1998 to 2002, and for which she won a Golden
Globe Award. Russell has since appeared in several films, including We
Were Soldiers, The Upside of Anger, Mad About Mambo, Wonder Woman,
Mission: Impossible III, Waitress, and August Rush.
Russell was born in Fountain Valley, California, the daughter of Stephanie
(née Stephens), a homemaker, and David Russell, a Nissan Motors executive.
She has an older brother, Todd, and a younger sister, Julie. Russell grew
up in Coppell, Texas, Mesa, Arizona and Highlands Ranch, Colorado, moving
frequently because of her father's employment. Though she is best known
for her acting, she started out at Starstruck dance studio in a suburb of
Denver and it was her dancing, not her acting, that earned her a spot on
the Mickey Mouse Club.
Russell first appeared on television as a cast member of the New Mickey
Mouse Club variety show on the Disney Channel. She was on the show from
1991 to 1993 and co-starred with future pop stars Christina Aguilera,
Britney Spears, JC Chasez, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling.
In 1992, she appeared in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid alongside Rick Moranis
and in 1993 had a role on the sitcom Boy Meets World as Mr. Feeny's niece.
Keri had an appearance on Married with Children in a 1995 episode. Russell
subsequently starred in several film and television roles, including the
1996 made-for-television film The Babysitter's Seduction. She also had a
role on the short-lived soap opera series Malibu Shores the same year. In
1994, she appeared in Bon Jovi's music video "Always" with Jack
Noseworthy. In 1997, she appeared in two episodes of Roar alongside Heath
From 1998 to 2002, Russell starred as the title character on the
successful WB Network series Felicity; she won a Golden Globe for the role
in 1999. Russell's long and curly hair was one of her character's defining
characteristics, and a drastic hairstyle change at the beginning of the
show's second season was considered to be the cause of a significant drop
in the show's television ratings. As a result, new policies were enacted
at the network requiring hairstyle changes by cast to be approved by the
network's executives. Felicity 's ratings drop also coincided with the
show's move to a Sunday night time slot, so it is unclear exactly how much
effect the hairstyle change actually had. During the show's run, Russell
appeared in the films Eight Days a Week, The Curve and Mad About Mambo,
all of which received only limited releases in North America. Her next
role was in the film We Were Soldiers, playing the wife of an American
serviceman. The film was released in March 2002, two months before the end
of Felicity's run.
When Felicity ended, Russell took a break from acting. She moved to New
York City and took two years off to avoid the business of Hollywood,
spending time with friends. Russell subsequently made her off-Broadway
stage debut in 2004, appearing opposite Jeremy Piven, Andrew McCarthy, and
Ashlie Atkinson in Neil LaBute's Fat Pig. In 2005, she returned to
television and film, beginning with an appearance in the Hallmark Hall of
Fame television movie The Magic of Ordinary Days, theatrical film The
Upside of Anger (alongside Kevin Costner, Joan Allen and Evan Rachel
Wood), and the television miniseries Into the West.
Although a number of her Felicity co-stars went on to appear in producer
J. J. Abrams' series, Alias, Russell declined invitations to be part of
the show. In a seminar at the Museum of Television and Radio, Abrams said,
"I've asked Keri if she would ever do it, and I usually get this, sort of
like, giggle — and then she hangs up". In 2005, Abrams asked Russell to
join the cast of Mission: Impossible III, a film he directed, and she
accepted. The film was released on May 5, 2006. In the summer of 2006,
Russell was chosen to be a celebrity spokeswoman for CoverGirl Cosmetics.
Before she was in Mission Impossible: III she was screen tested for the
role of Lois Lane in Superman Returns but lost the role to Kate Bosworth,
with whom she co-starred in The Girl in the Park.
She taped two episodes as a guest character on the NBC show Scrubs in
2007. She played Melody, a sorority sister and good friend of Elliot Reid
played by Sarah Chalke. The first episode aired on April 26, and the
second on May 3. She starred in Waitress, a well-reviewed independent film
in which she played Jenna, a pregnant waitress in the American South; it
was the fourth film in a row in which Russell had played a pregnant woman.
The film opened on May 4, 2007 and Russell's performance was positively
received by critics, with Michael Sragow of The Baltimore Sun writing that
Russell's performance had "aesthetic character" and "welds tenderness and
fierceness with quiet heat". In the summer of 2007, Russell appeared in
The Keri Kronicles, a reality show/sitcom sponsored by CoverGirl and
airing on MySpace; the show was filmed at Russell's home in Manhattan and
spotlighted her life.
Russell next appeared in August Rush, a drama released in November 2007.
She also appeared on the cover of the New York Post's Page Six magazine on
November 11, 2007. She has completed roles in Butterfly: A Grimm Love
Story (titled Rohtenburg for its German release), in which she plays Katie
Armstrong, a graduate student who writes a thesis paper on an infamous
cannibal murder case, and the thriller The Girl in the Park, opposite
Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth and Alessandro Nivola.
Russell recently appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler playing the
lead. In an appearance on The View on December 15, 2008, Russell said she
got the part because Sandler's wife Jackie had seen Russell in Waitress
and suggested her for the movie.
Russell portrayed Wonder Woman in a direct-to-video animated feature
released March 3, 2009.
Russell starred alongside Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford in the Tom
Vaughan-helmed Extraordinary Measures for CBS Films. The drama, which
started filming on April 6, 2009 and was released on Janury 22, 2010, was
the first film to go into production for the new company. Russell played
Aileen Crowley, a mother who tries to build a normal home life for her
sick children while her husband, John (Fraser), and an unconventional
scientist (Ford) race against time to find a cure. Robert Nelson Jacobs
(The Water Horse) penned the screenplay, which was inspired by a Wall
Street Journal article and subsequent book, The Cure, by Geeta Anand.
Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher produced alongside Carla Shamberg. Ford
was an executive producer.
In 2005, several reports claimed that Russell was set to adopt
Scientology, after working with actor Tom Cruise, who is a Scientologist,
on Mission: Impossible III. Russell's representative subsequently
threatened to sue the reporter who first made the claim. Stories about the
incident had noted that Russell is of Jewish heritage; older reports,
which had originally suggested her conversion to Scientology, had
mentioned that she was once a member of the Mormon church.
As of 2007, Russell resides in Brooklyn.
Russell and Shane Deary, a carpenter she met through mutual friends,
became engaged in 2006 and were married on February 14, 2007 in New York.
Russell gave birth to a boy, River Deary, on June 9, 2007 in New York.
Russell had a midwife-assisted hospital birth; she has described her
pregnancy experience as "real great and easy".
Prior to her marriage, Russell had once dated her Felicity co-star Scott
Speedman during the show's run.